Of all the many hats entrepreneurs wear—from sourcing products to writing copy to supporting customers—the “content marketing hat” is one that usually stays on the rack.
Content marketing can be intimidating for many business owners, especially when you consider alternative marketing strategies that require less time and commitment. But it’s more than just a way to drive traffic to your website: 70% of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to a brand.
So how can you achieve these kinds of results for your own business? One answer, and probably the best if you’re just starting out, is content curation.
Content Curation: The Most Accessible Form of Content Marketing
Content curation is the process of actively collecting and strategically sharing 3rd party content to build your brand and simultaneously drive qualified traffic to your website or products.
The benefits of content curation include:
- Fuelling your social media and email marketing: You can add value beyond the products you're selling.
- Defining your brand: You are what you share.
- Growing your email list: If you offer value, people will opt in to receive it.
- Networking with others in your niche: Establish connections with not just your own audience, but with other content creators and their audiences too.
If you don’t have the time to create original content, or are still skeptical as to what kind of results you can get from content marketing, content curation is a good place to start when you don't have the resources to create your own original content.
The only real cost is usually time, which you can significantly reduce if you have the right process in place.
How to Establish a Content Curation Process
Content curation should be an ongoing effort, otherwise it devolves into a scramble to find things to share and fails to deliver a quality experience for your audience.
Once you’ve got a line on your customer’s content preferences, you should develop a streamlined process for finding the kind of content they’re into.
I recommend using a free service like Feedly or Pocket to regularly consume, collect, and organize content that relates to your audience. When it comes to curation, Chrome extensions are your best friend as they let you save content for later without having to jump between tabs in your browser.
Remember: You’re looking for irresistible content to share, so maintain high standard in terms of quality and be mindful of how you could potentially use this content.
Once you’ve gotten into the rhythm of rounding up content, the real challenge is finding compelling, meaningful ways to package it for your audience.
Here are a few options.
Fuel Your Blog With Curated Content
Most of the content you read online is probably curated. Look no further for proof than the last Buzzfeed article you read.
Curated content can take many forms:
- A response to a current event, video or trending topic.
- A list of recipes, movie recommendations, or useful tips.
- A listicle comprised of funny GIFs.
- A collection of mind-blowing stats, facts, or inspiring quotes.
- The list goes on...
The important thing is that you develop a compelling theme that you can turn into a great headline—the more specific, the better.
Be mindful that you still need to distribute this content for it to attract traffic, as well as feature a prominent, relevant call-to-action (maybe consider embedding a buy button or mentioning a sale at the end) to capture results from any traffic you might earn from this content.
When it comes to content marketing, always consider what you’re doing within the piece to build your brand or bring your visitors closer to purchase.
Content with images and visual elements get 94% more views than text-heavy content, so embedding visual or interactive content into your own posts is a good way to give your blog posts a boost. Most platforms like YouTube, Vine, SlideShare, and Instagram have an “embed” option that generates a snippet of code you can simply copy and paste into your post.
Be careful, however, since there’s a line you can cross. Here are some best practices for curating content ethically using this approach:
- When in doubt, ask for permission rather than forgiveness, especially for infographics, graphs and original images.
- Add some value, a summary, or your own opinion to the content you’ve curated, otherwise your own brand will be lost in the background.
- Vary your sources so you’re not always using content by the same author (this comes across as thoughtless, and may annoy the creator and bore your audience).
- If the original creator asks you to take something down, for whatever reason, do so.
- Most important: Give credit where it’s due by linking to the source and mentioning the original creator in a prominent way.
Ideally, content curation gives your brand a presence and an audience online while offering the original creator exposure. Maybe they’ll share your content for featuring them, letting you tap into their audiences as well.
Send Out a Curated Newsletter
Similar to the blog post roundup, you can create a well-designed weekly email newsletter that offers up content your audience might be interested in reading.
The beauty of this approach is it lets you build a subscriber list in a channel that’s one of the best for encouraging repeat visits to your site—I’m talking about email.
The “digest” format of these newsletters gives readers easy access to the best content or offers in your niche, and you can take the opportunity to incentivize opt-ins with a free newsletter subscription, along with the promise to be kept in the loop for promotions, discounts, and news.
If you don’t want this to take up too much of your time, GoodBits is a free tool that offers everything you need to start and maintain your own curated email newsletter.
GoodBits lets you capture readers with a dedicated landing page, easily collect content to curate via its chrome extension and design your email using a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Storq, a maternity clothing line, does a great job of building trust with their curated email newsletter "Qrib Sheet" that delivers a weekly mix of content and products for soon-to-be moms.
Add a Call-to-Action to the Links You Share on Social Media
By now you might be thinking that content curation seems like you’re just sending your hard-earned traffic away from your own site.
And while you can include links to your social media profiles, highlight relevant products, encourage subscriptions to build your email list and direct traffic to your store, you can also take it a step further.
If you want better results from content curation, you can use a tool like Snip.ly to add a call-to-action to the links you share.
Below you can see an example of a post on Fast Company about productive meetings with a call-to-action from Evernote linking to their own article about how to use their product to have fewer meetings.
See it in action for yourself.
With Snip.ly, you can create shortened links called “snips” that give you a presence whenever you share them via an overlay with a call to action that links to wherever you want to direct readers—whether it’s your store, a landing page or elsewhere.
The more you can tailor your call to action to the context of the article, the more likely it'll get clicked on.
You Don’t Need to Be a Creator to Benefit From Content
With a process and a plan in place, you can make this approach to marketing work in your favour, attracting and retaining a loyal audience. It's especially effective if you're trying to build a powerful lifestyle brand around your ecommerce business.
Content marketing—whether you're curating or creating—is all about delivering value, usually through teaching or entertaining, in order to attract potential customers and earn their trust. And that trust—showing customers that you truly "get them"—means you're not just selling a product but something more.
About The Author
Braveen Kumar is a Content Crafter at Shopify where he writes about ecommerce and entrepreneurship.